Friday Favorites - Race Prep!
*Required disclosure: this post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of my links I get a small (at no cost to you!) commission. I promise to only link products that I'd recommend and use myself. I strongly encourage you to first consider shopping small and locally, even if it means I don't get the referral commission. Otherwise I really appreciate your support.
It's here! It's here! Taper crazies, taper tantrums, (half) maranoia - all the insanity that comes with rest and nerves leading up to race weekend. The Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh half marathon is this weekend and I'm giving mile 7.5 to 8.7 a big ol' stink-eye for that ugly hill I'll have to run up. (And that's already the toughest section of a half marathon in my opinion, so I don't need any hill to make it worse!) Fine, fine, after a weekend on the Appalachian Trail I shouldn't complain about a measly ol' 163 feet elevation change. I shouldn't complain...but I still will. Bah!
But since it's Friday I've got a few things on my radar to celebrate the weekend!
1) Born to Run
Y'all, if you haven't read (or listened to) this book*, stop what you're doing and go read it right now. I'll wait. I listened to it on audiobook this fall and I've wanted to shout its praises from the hilltop for months, but I'm a slacker and have epically failed with Friday Favorite posts, so that plan fell through. "Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen" pulls together characters, science, geography, and races and gives you a story that is compelling even to those who hate running. (Don't believe me? Just read the Amazon and Goodread reviews!) It will leave you in awe about what the human body can do and will make you appreciate running buddies and athlete communities.
2) Runner tracking
Hey! Did you know you can track runners at Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh?! Actually...I'm not advocating that you track my running because I've been all over the place with performance this training season - clocking some slow runs that felt like agony and some of my fastest runs that felt amazing - so I'm anxious about this race, buuuuut if you know someone else who is running you can track them! http://www.runrocknroll.com/runner-tracking/
3) Races for a cause
I'm totally selling out running a for-profit race this spring (gahhhh I'm sorry!!) but the good news is the Not So Normal race in Carrboro (the same race I ran last spring) is also this weekend and they are awesome about supporting local non-profits in the area. As part of their bib pick-up they're collecting kids' books for First Pages and food items for TABLE. Yup, it's good to be Not So Normal.
Possibly the hardest blog post is the one that comes after a period of silence. Was it writer's block? I'd argue no because I still have been writing *something* but just not posting. I'm not the type of person who forces herself to write if I'm not ready, but usually just staring at a blank page with a pen in my hand is sufficient enough inspiration, although what I write about may not be exactly relevant. And so, derailed and uninspired, I have been struggling with guilt and inertia.
I have officially completed a full marathon event! Well, with a little help from my teammates. I met up with my NC Oiselle Volee teammates on Sunday morning for the City of Oaks marathon relay in Raleigh, with 26.2 miles split across four runners. We had five teams running so it was quite a crowd, with plenty of snacks and selfies.
On Saturday night as we drove to the next big exchange point after what was supposed to be a quick bite at Wendy's I sat in the back seat of the van with my legs kicked up and my Richmond half marathon blanket draped over my sore legs and watched brown-gold fields chase the sunset. Some fields were cotton - half-harvested or brow-beaten with white balls - the closest to snow that ever settles on those furrowed fields. Some fields contained soybeans - either thin from recent harvest or heavy with dry or moldy bean shells for crop rotation, already longing to burrow and return to the soil and elude the dull grey winter that in this Indian summer seemed impossibly far away. But the crops knew that winter is coming. Brown naked stalks of tobacco stood sentinel in some fields, though there were much fewer fields than there were twenty years ago or even ten years ago. As we drove east I looked behind us at the shrinking fields and watched the sky purple into twilight, a soft nostalgic smile curling at my lip corners. Tuna Run 200 this year was very different from last year - check out the full race report!
You don't really realize just how repetitive the motion of running is until you try doing something else. I had decided not to play soccer this summer or fall season because of a full schedule and the propensity of picking up odd injuries here and there but when I got the desperate text asking if I could please sub for a team that was going to be drastically short some placers I said yes, and on Thursday evening I pulled my soccer bag from the back of my closet and laced up the cleats.
At some point this weekend while working through the piles of periodicals that I've amassed throughout my house over the past year I got restless. "I might go on a run. Did I do my long run yesterday? Or was it the day before? I don't know, but I think I'll go on a run." And so, forgetting that I'd run seven miles on Saturday morning, on Sunday afternoon I went for a little run. And I kept going for six miles. I suppose when you get to the point that six or seven mile runs don't really feel much like long runs anymore then it might be time to consider the full marathon.
It's not often you see a world record broken. On Friday night the world record for the fastest denim mile run by a woman was smashed on the track of Meredith College as part of the Sir Walter Miler races. With an exciting line-up of denim runners, local running teams tackling the 4x400 relay, and a talented line-up of men's and women's elites, it was a great stage for world records and chasing the sub-4:00 mile time.
I'd always wanted to run the Bull Moon Ride and Run. It's a must-do local race that benefits Habitat for Humanity of Durham, a nonprofit I've volunteered and fundraised for previously, and for some reason the last few years I've been out of town or I've had some other conflict. So when Travis and Kristen and I decided to run the race this year, I was stoked. I was driving to downtown Durham when I realized this would be my first 5K race. I did things a little backwards starting with five half marathons, three 10-milers, a few 5-milers, an 8K and a 200-mile relay race. But I'd never raced a 5K, and it was electric in downtown Durham by the time I arrived at the start line.
Ugh. Summer. Sure, there are lots of things to love like extra daylight and beach trips, but 100 degree heat and 100% humidity? Nope. I do not love those things, and I especially don't love running in those conditions. So what do you do when it feels like your skin is about to melt off your body and sizzle onto the pavement, but you want to keep your running fitness? Try other workouts! Here are my 5 favorites.
Apparently I've talked about a lot of reasons to love running over the years. And while some reasons are trivial and some are life-changing, there's always another reason to run.
It was the summer solstice and I was waiting for a group of cyclists to come down the American Tobacco Trail. I was hoping for a few photos of cyclists on the trail and had tentative plans to meet a group somewhere along the Wake County section, but with no firm confirmation and the sky darkening with clouds I found a scenic bridge and settled down to wait.
Do you have any running favorites on your mind this week? Let me know in the comments!